Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mohammad Salehi, Co-Owner and CEO of Heray Spice, located in Chicago, IL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Heray Spice is a local business based in Chicago, Illinois, with a social mission to help farmers with better wages while helping chefs with the freshest and highest quality spices from Afghanistan.

We are also a farmer's co-operative based in Herat, Afghanistan, where we bring farmers together to train them on food safety, standard packaging, and safe processing of saffron. To import the highest quality saffron and pay our farmers better wages, Heray farms are owned by local farmers and have a partnership to only supply saffron for Heray Spice. Our farmers are being paid based on fair-trade principles. The primary customers in our business are individuals and companies in the food industry, such as restaurants, caterers, food manufacturers, and grocery stores. Additionally, individuals who enjoy cooking at home and preparing their own meals are also our customers.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Mohammad Salehi; I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Heray Spice. I was in Afghanistan, and I was a farmer while going to high school and university. I have a bachelor's and master's degree from Illinois Tech in Information Technology and Management. My family, my farmers, and my dreams motivate me every day to get up and do my job.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Helping 32 farmers in our co-operative, working with chefs and home cooks across The United States, and building my business from single spice to 12 spices in a few years.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Having the discipline to do the job every single day in spite of not seeing the result today or in the near future.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Get up every day and do your job that you can and should.
  2. Stay strong during tough times; it is not permanent.
  3. Don't be shy or scared to reach out to customers.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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